The Dodgers’ offense is one of the best in the Majors, but hitting left-handed pitching is one area in which they have struggled so far this season. You would never have guessed that on Sunday.
Los Angeles jumped all over left-hander Alex Young on Sunday en route to a 9-8 win over the D-backs at Chase Field. The Dodgers outscored the D-backs 21-11 in the three-game series and have won all seven meetings against Arizona this season. With the sweep, the Dodgers are a season-high 17 games over .500.
“I think we just kept stringing tough at-bats together and he cracked and we were able to take advantage,” said Dodgers outfielder AJ Pollock. “I think our at-bats in general were really good. I think sometimes, the lefties, we let them get into that cruise control and next thing you know it’s the sixth inning and we didn’t string enough good at-bats together. Up and down the lineup today there were solid at-bats against the lefty.”
The Dodgers are hitting .254 against right-handers this season, but that number significantly decreases to .225 against southpaws. It’s something the Dodgers have been vocal about trying to improve, and the front office hasn’t shied away from trying to add pieces that could help fix the problem.
Albert Pujols is the prime example of that. Pujols was a surprise addition earlier this season, but the thinking behind the signing was that the future Hall of Famer would help the Dodgers hit southpaws better. That has worked out perfectly for the Dodgers, as Pujols continued to crush lefties, smacking a three-run homer to cap off a five-run third.
Between the Angels and Dodgers, Pujols has 11 homers this season, eight of them coming against lefties. Since joining the Dodgers, Pujols is batting .363 (16-for-44) with five homers against left-handed pitching. His six homers since May 17 are tied with Justin Turner and Chris Taylor for the team lead. Pujols now has 673 career homers.
While Pujols delivered the big three-run homer, he was hardly the only one that had success against Young and the D-backs. Justin Turner continued swinging a hot bat, going 2-for-3 on Sunday. He is batting .382 over his last nine games. Steven Souza Jr. also contributed with an RBI triple, as the outfielder thoroughly enjoyed his return to the desert. Turner and Souza will continue to be big parts of the lineup as the Dodgers look to be more consistent against southpaws moving forward.
The rare outburst against a lefty served as enough run support, despite a furious eighth-inning rally by the D-backs. Tony Gonsolin, who struggled with command in his first two starts this season, was much more efficient Sunday. The right-hander needed 30 pitches to get through the first innings in each of his first two starts, but got through three scoreless on 30 pitches Sunday.
Before the game, manager Dave Roberts said the club was going to limit Gonsolin’s pitch count because the right-hander experienced shoulder soreness after his previous start. That’s exactly what Roberts did on Sunday, pulling Gonsolin after just 46 pitches in 3 2/3 innings. Gonsolin expects to make his next start.
The bullpen, however, allowed the D-backs to get back into the game, allowing six runs in the eighth. Edwin Uceta and Victor González struggled to get out of the inning, but González was able to keep the tying run at third as he got Josh Rojas to ground out to end the threat. Kenley Jansen shut the door in the ninth, recording his 18th save of the season.
“Fortunately [González] made the pitch to get out of it,” Roberts said. “And Kenley closed the door for us.”
Despite missing Corey Seager, Max Muncy and Cody Bellinger, the Dodgers improved to 10-2 over their last 12 games. Of course, all of that came against four teams that are under .500. The schedule gets significantly tougher for the Dodgers, who begin a three-game series against the Padres on Monday and then host the Cubs for four games. Hitting left-handed pitching will help the Dodgers continue their recent tear. Sunday was a good start.
“It was a little tough at the end there, but a win is a win,” Pollock said. “Now we go in and play a good Padres team and we’ll keep the same approach.”